The Law

(Written by one of CCE’s many knowledgeable people.)

It’s easy to keep on the right side of the law on your new cycle commute. The following section briefly sets out what you must, and must not, do to keep it all legal. If you have any queries about this, or any other aspects of cycling, roads or traffic law than drop a post on CCE – someone is bound to know the answer. 

Your bike 

• Your bike must have a red rear reflector, which is clearly visible to road users behind you (if you take it out at night)

• Your bike pedals must have amber reflectors fitted to both the front and rear, unless your bike was built prior to 1 October 1985 (if you take it out at night)

• Your bike’s brakes must be in efficient working order

• If you plan on cycling in the dark, or when visibility is seriously reduced, then your bike must be fitted with a white front light and a rear red light. Flashing lights are allowed. 

Things you must do

• Obey all traffic signs, signals and road markings.

• Keep to the designated cycle side of any segregated off-road route, e.g. Middle Meadow Walk.

• Stop when a police officer asks you to do so.

Things you must not do

• Carry passengers, unless your bike has been designed to carry them. Attaching a child seat to your bike is fine, as these have been designed for that purpose.

• Hold on to a moving vehicle or trailer.

• Cycle under the influence of drink or drugs. There is no blood alcohol limit for cyclists, as there is for drivers. The law defines a cyclist as being under the influence if they are unfit to ride their bike, meaning they are incapable of having proper control of their bike.

• Cycle in a careless or inconsiderate manner, which is defined as cycling without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other people.

• Cycle dangerously, which is defined as cycling in a manner liable to cause either injury to a person or serious damage to property.

• Cycle on a motorway or other road where cycling is prohibited.

Cycling on the pavement 

Generally, cycling on the pavement in Scotland is an offence, although children aged under 12 can cycle on the pavement without getting into any trouble. You can cycle across a pavement to get on to a cycle track, driveway or other land where cycling is allowed. You can also push your bike along a pavement.

Cycling is allowed on certain specially designated pavements. You can cycle on a pavement where you see the following signs:

Unsegregated route: Cyclists and pedestrians are mixed up together.


Segregated route: These routes will have a white line painted down the middle. One side of will be for pedestrians and one for cyclists. The cycle side is often indicated by white bike symbols painted on the tarmac. Cyclists must stick to their designated side.


Thanks to Scotland’s access laws, cyclists have a right to travel over most land, as long as they do so in a responsible manner. This means you can cycle on most paths in urban parks, along canal tow paths and over the vast majority of paths in rural areas.

Common misconceptions

People love to give cyclists advice. Unfortunately, not all of it is very helpful or accurate. You may well be told that you must do one, or more, of the following things. However, there is NO legal requirement to do any of these: 

• Wear a helmet.

• Wear high visibility clothing.  

• Have a bell fitted to your bike.  

• Have a front reflector fitted to your bike.

• Cycle as near to the edge of the road as possible.

• Cycle in single file, when cycling in a group.

• Use on road cycle lanes, where these are provided

You can choose to do any of these things – but that is a personal choice, not a requirement.
Cycling signs and road markings. (By Sustrans)


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